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Historic EBRD and EIB trip to Moldova

By Anthony Williams

The Presidents of the EBRD and the EIB made their first ever joint visit to a country of operations this week, holding meetings in Moldova where important reforms are underway to support economic integration with the European Union.

Sir Suma Chakrabarti of the EBRD and Werner Hoyer of the EIB were due to hold discussions with all the major political leaders of the country.

The EBRD visit kicked off witha signing at Mobiasbanca, part of the Société Générale group. The EBRD sealed an innovative financing agreement that will help bring credits to Moldova’s all-important SME sector.

EBRD relations have been tense with Moldova’s local banks, where lack of transparency in shareholding structures and generally weak corporate governance, compounded by problems in regulation, have restricted its investments.

It was therefore particularly important that on the evening the before Sir Suma’s arrival, the National Bank of Moldova took the key step of stripping the voting rights of shareholders considered to be working illegally in concert at Victoria Bank, in which the EBRD has a stake.

Speaking after a meeting with Prime Minister Iurie Leancă on Thursday, Sir Suma told Moldovan media the EBRD strongly welcomed the development.

“The National Bank of Moldova has taken a very important and courageous step in the right direction, a step that shows that robust regulation is possible” he said.

It is a very encouraging signal for foreign investors not just in the banking sector but in the wider Moldovan economy, he said.

The EBRD has a strong history of investment in Moldova, with a significant pipeline so that future projects are assured. The EBRD is also the largest single investor in the country.

The Bank has so far carried out a total of 105 projects worth over €900 million. 2013 was a record year with investments of €128.5 million and we expect to invest at least another €100 million in 2014.

After the very difficult weather conditions in 2012, Moldova's economy rebounded strongly last year and we see further growth (3.5%) this year.

Sir Suma said during his meetings that the economy’s future progress depended crucially on Moldova moving ahead decisively with its reform programme, in line with its undertakings to the European Union.

Moldova had taken an important step when it initialled agreements with the EU in Vilnius in November last year and which it planned to formally sign in 2014.

The authorities have shown that they are determined to take the -- not always easy -- path towards reform and economic integration.

The EBRD visit served to underscore the Bank’s commitment to supporting this integration.

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